Perhaps many of us have heard of the famous quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s great (but incredibly boring) book, “The Brothers Karamazov”: Without God, “everything is permitted.” having this in mind; I am going to analyze some of the arguments from believers about morality.
One particular argument that keeps repeating itself among people is the one based on fear or reward:
– Is God the source of our morality?
– Yes, because if we know whatever we do, we wouldn’t be punished, then it would be permitted (or lawful) for us to do “anything”. But if we know that there is always someone watching us, and we cannot escape from his watchful eye; then we wouldn’t dare doing bad things.
First of all, somehow the same argument about fear happens about capital punishment (and especially about certain brutal ones like stoning to death). ‘Fear’ does not stop bad people from doing bad things, because the reasons for those bad deeds are absolutely separate from the form of punishment. That is why ‘reform’ is suggested, instead of ‘punishment’, and that is why reason and education (proper education) are necessary.
On the other hand (and more importantly), is it not true that many people (religious or not) are actually ‘good’ people? Many atheists do not believe in any kind of God, Abrahamic or otherwise, but they are still good people. Also, this thing strangely applies to ‘good’ believers as well: personally, I have known many Muslims and Christians that are kind, understanding and generous. So am I (or are they) to believe that they are not actually good, but fear (or lust for a reward) has made them ‘act’ this way? It is like saying that people are all criminals, but since the law forces are always watching them like the big brother, they ‘act’ like they are law abiding citizens! This is most definitely absurd.
There is another particularly intriguing argument that religious people make:
– Is God the source of our morality?
– Yes, because “God is goodness itself”. And goodness is the source of morality; therefore God is the source of morality.
I cannot begin to tell you how many times I have heard the quoted statement in the Middle East. But in there when religious people say that, it is mostly in an emotional state of mind, not to build a good argument. That is because in their minds there is nothing that questions this certain belief, and in reality no nonbeliever would dare questioning it there. I have heard this in some Christian-Atheist debate as well, but this time as a legitimate argument.
But now I shall ask: Why god is goodness? Is it because God is something (or someone) that comes with specific qualities (being kind, generous etc.), or is it because whatever God is, goodness is? If the first one is true, then the qualities of goodness are different from God, and so you can be good without God. But if the second is true, then we have to accept that if God was to be cruel or malicious, then cruelty or malice would have been qualities of goodness! To every religious person’s mind God is “not” cruel or malicious, exactly because these are qualities of being bad.
The source of morality therefore has to be something different from the ever watchful eye the unseen God, and also it is separated from him (whether he exists or not). To be clearer, I shall give my argument in an orderly way here:
1. God and morality are two separate things that have no intercept.
2. Without God, we cannot have Abrahamic religions.
Abrahamic Religions and morality are two completely different things and have no intercept.
The conclusion could also be shown in a Venn diagram based on Set theory: